book reviews

Book Review: No Easy Day

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin LadenNo Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden

by Mark Owen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

My current WIP, To Hunt a Sub, includes a former Navy SEAL-turned-paleoanthropologist. With two children in the military, I know enough to know SEALs are never ‘former’. They are That Guy regardless current profession, so I have to include the characteristics, thought processes, reactions, voice of that persona, as well as the commitment, patriotism, never-say-die, refuse-to-fail attitudes that make these men unique.

As a result, I read everything I could find on that group:

  • Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10–probably one of the most famous SEALs, thanks to this book and Hollywood
  • Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy Seal
  • SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper
  • Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
  • Seal!: From Vietnam’s Phoenix Program to Central America’s Drug Wars
  • Navy SEALs: A History of the Early Years
  • American Sniper: An Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in American History

These books are remarkably similar in their voice, description of the men who choose this profession (or are chosen for it), their love of America,  countrymen, and their Brother warriors.

One I just finished is Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer’s No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal (Dutton 2012). This is a firsthand account of the mission that kills Osama Bin Laden through Mark Owen’s story–how he grew into the man who ended the reign of terror that was Osama bin Laden. As in other SEAL books, Owens makes it clear early and often that his success is the success of the men around him. He constantly compliments others and downplays his part in events

“Having Charlie back made up for some of it. Fresh off of instructor duties at Green Team, he was sharp, and on this operation he was going to be vital. His experience and calm demeanor under fire were second to none.”

“Without a doubt, our RECCE guys were the best in the business…”

The reader also gets lots of first-hand accounts of superman actions that are the norm in Special Forces–no terrain stops them be it rock face or mud flat. Everything is simply the path to their objective. Stamina, too, is never a factor, always assumed. Sleep arrives if there’s time, as does food.

But Owens story is more than a first-hand account (though that is fascinating). He includes lots of primary source emotions, reactions, thoughts. There’s one particularly fascinating scene as Owens dresses himself for the operating, with detailed descriptions of clothing, weaponry, protection, comms, and more (see it on pg. 202).

Here are some of my favorite lines:

  • “Our tactics weren’t unique. What made us different was our experience level and knowing when to take violent, decisive action and when to be patient and quiet
  • “The target was secure, but now we had to do sensitive site exploitation, which we called SSE. Bsically, we shot pictures of the dead, gathered up any weapons and explosives, and collected thumb drives, computers, and papers.”
  • “SSE had evolved over the years. It had become a way to rebut false accusations that the fighters we killed were innocent farmers.”
  • “The raid was proof that good planning and the use of stealth was a lethal combination.”
  • “On the last deployment, we were slapped with a new requirement to call them out. After surrounding a building, an interpreter had to get on a bullhorn and yell for the fighters to come out with their hands raised. It was similar to what police did in the US.”
  • “We had no idea what the inside of the house looked like. It wasn’t a big concern. We had years of combat experience, and we could apply it to this problem.”
  • “We also had to battle the ‘good idea fairy’. She shows up on all our missions to some degree or another, and she isn’t our friend. …officers and planners start dreaming up unrealistic scenarios that we may have to deal with on a mission.”
  • “We needed a reason other than the truth [to capture OBL] in case we were detained.”
  • “The only evidence I’d slept was the empty baggie that once held a couple of Ambien and a handful of empty bottles now filled with urine.”

Overall, a fascinating look at how America accomplishes the impossible.

You may wonder at my interest in this world? I’m a school teacher, a quiet person who couldn’t physically defend myself if I had to (yeah, I’d try–and fail).

As I was writing my latest WIP, I knew I had to ground myself in military. I don’t have that background. Some would say it is an impossible task, given that I can’t ‘write what I know’. They may be right, but my muse wouldn’t listen. She just kept throwing books at me–read  this! Now this! You don’t get it yet read this one too!

So I did. That came to about fifty books. I won’t list them all, just a few of my favorites that use a military setting and plot to share experiences we are all of us familiar with:

If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll love these books.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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16 thoughts on “Book Review: No Easy Day

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Book Reviews in 2014 | WordDreams...

  2. Pingback: Book Review: American Sniper | WordDreams...

  3. My son is very interested in the military. It makes me nervous, yet when I read about these heroic men and women I can’t help but think I’d be proud if he joined this elite group of individuals. Thanks for these references!


    • Life in general is dangerous. I worry when my kids travel alone (well, they’re both mid-20s. It had to happen), go new places, don’t text me all day. I don’t think I worry more because they’re in the military. It’s just what my mom-meter makes me do.

      At least they’re both happy with their jobs and find them meaningful, something lots of people can’t say.


    • It’s not fiction so yes, a heavy read. I was fascinated that a person could choose to live in that world–love it in fact. I’d find it stressful. I’m so happy he chose to be one of those ‘rough men’


  4. The entire ‘military’ thing is very fascinating, I had friends whose fathers were in the military – it’s a totally different life. Best of luck with ‘To Hunt a Sub’😀


    • There are so many military types around. Some are pretty normal guys, but if you’re writing about their lives, you can’t skip the this type of character. They’re sprinkled throughout.


  5. Your tenacity in research could beat that of a Navy seal in action.🙂

    Thanks for sharing this book, I’m adding it to my books to borrow from Library list.


  6. Wow, these men are like Superman and Batman combined with a l little of the Joker thrown in so they understood the mind set of the enemy. Fascinating. Good uck with your book..


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